A deep dive into Windows 8 Consumer Preview

After a few days of working with the new version of Windows 8, it looks as if desktop users may be shortchanged.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld |  Windows, Microsoft, windows 8

There are keyboard shortcuts as well. You can press the Windows key and Tab key simultaneously to open thumbnails of your open apps, and then move to any you want to run. And the old Alt-Tab standby still works.

If you then move your cursor down from the top left corner, you'll display the thumbnails of your other open apps.Click to view larger image

At first, there doesn't seem to be a way to actually close a Metro app. I finally discovered that it's possible by moving the cursor to the top of the screen and dragging it down towards the bottom of the screen. The app first shrinks from full-screen size to a window, and when you drag it off the bottom of the screen, the app closes.

By the way, for those who are fans of the keyboard, you'll find that Windows 8 has some very useful keyboard shortcuts. In combination with the Windows key, you can press the "I" key to open the Settings pane, the "F" key to search through your files and the "W" key to get to a settings pane.

Charmed, I'm sure

One new interface feature that takes some getting used to is what Microsoft calls "charms" -- icons that let you perform an action, such as searching or changing options. When you move your cursor to the upper-right corner or lower-right corner of the screen, five of these charms appear: Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings. Some are quite useful, while others appear to serve no purpose.

Search, as its name indicates, lets you search through local apps, local files files or via the Web -- its quite customizable.

Share is designed to let you share with others from within your current app, but I was unable to find a way to use it. When I clicked it in the Mail app, for example, I got the message "Mail can't share." I received the same message when I attempted to use it in every app I tried, even in the People social networking app, whose primary purpose is sharing. Perhaps it will work better in future versions of Windows 8.

The Devices charm is also somewhat baffling. By its name, one would expect that it would help with configuring and managing devices. However, the only device setting that was visible was for using two monitors with Windows 8 -- I found none for tasks such as setting up a printer. And when I attached an external USB hard drive to my test system, that wasn't listed.

"Charms" are icons that let you perform an action, such as searching or changing options.Click to view larger image


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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